“How long a minute is, depends on which side of the bathroom door you're on.”
--Zall's Second Law
When we were kids time was almost irrelevant. You wake up, eat, go play, get called in to eat, go play, called in to eat again, go play, get called in to bed, sleep and repeat. As we get older priorities become a factor and time gets allotted to each. Soon our “free” time gets narrowed.
Once we become working adults, there’s nothing more important to our lives than making the bank, green backs, the Benjamins. Hence most of us spend 40 hours a week (35% of our waking hours) working. In our remaining “free” time we learn to cut corners, shave a few seconds here, a couple minutes there all in the name of “saving time”.
Think about the tasks in your everyday life where you feel time is wasted. Here are 5 possible examples.
- Doing laundry
- Commuting to work
- Cooking dinner
- Mowing the lawn
- Making coffee
If time is a major barrier for people to try to “green” all of these activities, maybe we need to think more about the actual time that change would involve. Maybe it’s not as difficult as it all sounds. For instance we’ve all managed to fit recycling into our routine even though it had a huge backlash when it was first introduced and uptake was slow.
So, let’s go back to our list.
Doing laundry: Using cold water instead of hot/warm, you can’t tell me turning the dial takes any time. Hanging up the laundry versus using the dryer does take time. Transferring to the dryer, maybe 2 minutes? Hanging clothes on the line, let’s go with 10 minutes. We average 3 loads of laundry a week--can you find an extra 30 minutes in your week?
Commuting to work: We’ve written about this ad nauseam but could you find one hour one day once per week to try biking or bussing to work?
Cooking dinner: Eating at home and preparing your own food is not only healthier than fast food but allows you to eat more locally produced food. The food is guaranteed hot and you don’t have to worry about a strangers thumb in your potatoes. Cooking (as well as grocery shopping) can be a collaborative activity too—quality time together or with family.
Mowing the lawn: The majority of urban residents do not have football field size lawns. How about trying out a reel mower instead of a gas powered beast? If you’re already walking with the gas powered mower, this is a no brainer as the time cost is the same. Going from a riding mower may cost a bit more time but you get free exercise and reduce the cost of fuel from your lawn mowing bill, not to mention the reduction in noise and air pollution.
Making coffee: Grind and brew your own single cup in a maker or a French press, and pour it into a travel mug before you leave. Try it out, takes less time to brew your own than to wait in the drive thru at Timmy’s.
Our time is manageable when we take a serious look at our priorities and make a change. Stats Canada found that the average Canadian watches 21 hours of TV per week. Wow! So maybe we can take on one change, even if it’s one that adds a half hour to our lifestyle. Give it a chance. Challenge yourself. Missing a TV show isn’t the end of the world—it just might be a step toward saving it.
Page last updated on Friday, May 13, 2011